Police in Lancashire still don’t record all rapes properly, say inspectors

Lancashire’s police force has ‘significantly improved’ its approach to recording crimes, according to a new report – but must improve when it comes to rape and crimes against the vulnerable.

Monday, 20th May 2019, 8:31 am
Updated Monday, 20th May 2019, 9:31 am
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Two years ago, government inspectors found that more than 20,000 crimes were going unrecorded every year, with officers criticised for showing a “general lack of training and supervision”.

The force now successfully records 93.3 per cent of all crimes – a nine per cent increase since 2017 – with more than 15,000 extra crimes now recorded.

But there is still room for improvement – with one in 10 violent crimes not recorded – plus 4.8 per cent of sex offences. Eight rapes were not recorded properly. Two were misclassified as sexual assaults, two were incorrectly classified as N100s (reports of rape not recorded as a crime), and four were not recorded at all.

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The police’s process of not recording a rape as a crime was called “inefficient” and had not changed since the inspectors’ last visit.

Where forces don’t record a reported rape as a crime, the report explained, they must apply a Home Office classification of N100. The force crime registrar and data audit unit then had to assess these cases and, if appropriate, convert them into recorded rape crimes.

Inspectors said: “The force is still using this process. And we found several cases where it had enough information to record a rape crime from the outset, but hadn’t done so. We found no clear evidence or explanation as to why.”

Out of 20 N100 records checked, five were later correctly converted into recorded crimes of rape, one should have been recorded as a rape at the outset but remained incorrectly classified as an N100, and one should have been reclassified to an assault crime. The rest were correctly recorded.

“We found that staff and officers still had very little awareness of the N100 classification,” inspectors said.

“This is disappointing as we highlighted this matter as an area for improvement in our 2017 report. The force must continue to work to improve officer and staff understanding of N100s and make sure this classification is correctly used.”

Giving the force a rating of ‘good’ overall, the report said: “The force has embarked on a programme of work intended to achieve a cultural change. It intends to make officers and staff fully understand the need to record crime reports so victims get the service they need and deserve.”

Inspector Phil Gormley said: “It is very encouraging to see the rate and pace of improvement in a relatively short amount of time.

“Whilst there is still work to do to ensure that all crimes are accurately recorded, our inspection revealed that the force has put in place a range of improvements at all levels.

“It has successfully applied all the recommendations contained in our 2017 report, as well as implementing its own initiatives and measures.

“Last year, the force appointed a temporary assistant chief constable to lead a programme to improve how crime is recorded. Additionally, the deputy chief constable launched the ‘Record for Victims’ campaign, which aims to make sure the needs of victims are at the forefront of the crime-recording decisions taken by officers and staff. We also saw a notable improvement in crime cancellation decisions made by the force’s designated decision managers.”

Dep Ch Con Sunita Gamblin, inset, said: “Every time we receive a report of crime having taken place, it is vitally important that we record it – firstly to ensure that victims of crime get access to the right support they need and secondly, so that we can fully understand the nature and types of crimes that take place in Lancashire and provide the right service to those who need it.”